Hydraulic walking machine to thunder through botanic garden for art show

Posted by er134 at Jul 11, 2013 10:10 AM |
Walking art piece features in the University of Leicester’s Sculpture in the Garden exhibition

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 11 July 2013

Photo opportunity: Artist James Capper driving his sculpture Tread Toe at University of Leicester’s Harold Martin Botanic Garden, Oadby, on Monday, July 15 at 12.30pm

An Image of Tread Toe is available from: er134@le.ac.uk

A hydraulic-powered mechanical beast will stomp its way through the University of Leicester’s Botanic Garden next week (July 15).

Tread Toe, a self-powered, steel-framed walking machine made by artist James Capper, is one of the many unusual, large-scale sculptures to feature in this year’s Sculpture in the Garden Exhibition.

James is coming to the garden on Monday, July 15 – and will demonstrate his walking machine from 12.30 to 2.30pm.

The yellow and white sculpture-come-vehicle – which resembles a Caterpillar or JCB construction behemoth - includes a cockpit and central hydraulic foot which propels the machine forward.

James designs and builds all his mechanical sculptures himself – and takes inspiration from R. G. LeTourneau, an American engineer who invented a large number of earthmoving machines.

Artist James Capper said: “I build machines that use industrial hydraulics to move. I’m interested in the problem-solving aspect of industrial engineering, which requires a combination of creative and practical thought.

“There is a strong element of inventing, adapting and changing existing techniques and processes to resolve a problem – such as ‘how to make Tread Toe walk’ - and obviously working closely with materials.

“Ultimately, I hope that this combines to create a distinct new language in the realm of mechanical sculpture.”

Curator Almuth Tebbenhoff said: “We hope when people see Tread Toe, they will think ‘what the hell is this doing here?’, because it looks like a piece of machinery left behind by a builder. There’s definitely a fun element about it.

“The theme of the show is ‘A Change of Heart’ – which can mean a change from one state to another. Tread Toe changes the environment once it’s let lose. It churns up the ground and makes a hell of a noise.

“It is a symbol of potential for change. The botanic garden is generally very calm and tranquil – but this is a painful reminder that there is a cruel world out there.”

The theme of change is also present in Liane Lang’s sculpture of the legs of Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the last Iranian Shah – whose statue was broken in two during the 1979 Islamic revolution.

The exhibition also features a set of huge railway tracks by artist Anna Sikorska – resembling giant version of the wooden toy sets made by toymakers Brio.

“A Change of Heart” showcases a dynamic range of sculptures at the University of Leicester’s Harold Martin Botanic Garden, Oadby, over the summer.

It features work by 20 artists, including David Worthington, former Vice-President of the Royal British Society of Sculptors, Marigold Hodgkinson and William Pye.

The exhibition will be open to the public until Sunday, October 27.

The visitor entrance is on Glebe Road, LE2 2LD. The garden is open seven days a week, 10.00am to 4.00pm. Entry is free, except on special event days. The paths are suitable for wheelchairs and there are disabled toilets.


Notes to editors

For further details contact Stella Couloutbanis, email sc352@le.ac.uk, and from the botanical garden at botanicgarden@le.ac.uk

James Capper can be contacted at: jamescapper.sculpture@gmail.com

To see a video of Tread Toe in action, go to: http://vimeo.com/57589633

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